Best Torque Screwdrivers 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks
You may have heard of torque wrenches, tools that are used to tighten bolts to a specific tightness to avoid damaging the underlying material. Torque screwdrivers are what you get when you take the same idea and make it a step smaller. Instead of working with bolts, you’ll be tightening screws to a particular tightness with a low tolerance for error.
Given that small tolerance, it’s important that you get the right tool for the job. Not all torque screwdrivers are made to the same quality standards, and some work slightly differently, meaning that you get can get different levels of use out of them depending on the jobs you need to do. Shopping online doesn’t always make this an easy job, either.
We want to make sure that you know everything you need to know about torque screwdrivers before you buy. Our reviews walk you through each product’s good and bad, so you know what you’re getting up front. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide which is designed to deepen your understanding of these tools.
Comparison of our Favorite Products
|Top Pick||CDI 151SM||
|Capri Tools CP21075||
|Best for the Money||Wheeler 553556||
|Performance Tool M194||
The 5 Best Torque Screwdrivers – Reviews 2020:
1. CDI 151SM Micro-Adjustable Torque Screwdriver – Top Pick
The CDI 151SM Micro Adjustable Torque Screwdriver is the best overall torque screwdriver on the market today. It comes with a very sensitive torque mechanism. Since torque wrenches and screwdrivers are typically accurate from 20 percent to 100 percent of their maximum torque, this model is accurate throughout its entire range, making it a great tool for sensitive torqueing applications. It comes with a standard 1/4-inch bit holder, so it’s a good choice for people who already have a good selection of standard bits that they need to use.
This model also makes a very solid click that is very audible when the assigned torque is reached. That makes it a good tool for a noisy shop, or other situations where it’s valuable to clearly make out when it’s reached the appropriate torque. The only quibble we have with this model is that the ergonomics are underwhelming for a tool of its price. If that were improved, it would be hard to say anything negative about this model. If you’re looking for a very sensitive torque screwdriver that works every time, then you’ll need to be ready to stomach the price on this one, but it’s well worth the money.
2. Capri Tools CP21075 Screwdriver (Torque) – The Runner-Up
The Capri Tools CP21075 is another great choice for those looking for a high-quality torque screwdriver. It’s accurate across its entire range, from 10 to 50 inch-pounds, so if you’re looking for something with a higher maximum torque than our previous model, then this one is a good choice for you. It also comes with a calibration certificate, showing that it’s accurate to within plus or minus six degrees, making it a good choice for jobs that require certified tools. Despite its large range, it can be adjusted in increments of just 1 inch-pound, giving you good control over the tool.
This model comes with a case and 20 bits, which will cover most kinds of jobs you’ll need to do. If you’re doing something specialized, don’t worry. It accepts standard 1/4-inch bits, so you can add the specialized ones you need to your kits. What keeps this otherwise great model out of first is the fact that the bits sometimes get stuck in the screwdriver. That’s a pain to deal with, and one that you don’t have to deal with on other models. Overall this is a great, accurate tool, that will leave people satisfied with their purchase.
3. Wheeler 553556 Torque Screwdriver – Best for the Money
The Wheeler 553556 is the torque screwdriver you want to get if you need good quality, but don’t want to break the bank to get it. This model can be had for less than half of what you’d pay for our top two models, making it the best for the money on our list. With a price drop like that, you might suspect that the quality or accuracy went down, too, but this model lives up well in those categories. It’s accurate to plus or minus two inch-pounds from 10 to 40 inch-pounds, and accurate to plus or minus five percent from 40 to 65 inch-pounds. That makes it a very accurate torque screwdriver in most situations.
It also comes with a great case, which allows you to keep it safe when you’re not using it. It also includes ten bits, which are this model’s weak link. They’re not the best-made or the strongest bits on the market. The good news is that high-quality bits aren’t very expensive, and the torque screwdriver alone is more than worth it for the price you’re paying. If you’re looking for a good deal on a torque screwdriver, this is the model for you.
4. Neiko 10573B Torque Screwdriver Set
If you’re looking for an inexpensive torque screwdriver, then the Neiko 10573B Torque Screwdriver Set might appeal to you. It comes at a decent price, and it also comes with 20 bits. If you’re just getting started, that’s a good bonus to get, since it will allow you to work on a variety of jobs without having to buy additional parts. It also comes with a standard 1/4-inch head, so you’ll be able to use any standard bits with this model. This model’s range is decent overall, running from 10 to 50 inch-pounds. However, the steps on this model are large, as it can only be adjusted in increments of five. Compare that to other models on our list which can be adjusted by one inch-pound, or less.
Those large steps definitely hurt its value, despite the fact that it has a decent range. If you need rough torque adjustments, you could be okay with this model, but if you need to fine-tune, you won’t be happy with its performance. This model also comes with poor instructions. Torque screwdrivers aren’t the most complex tools in the world, but products should always come with adequate documentation, and this model falls short.
5. Performance Tool M194 Adjustable Micro Torque Screwdriver
The design ideas behind the Performance Tool M194 Adjustable Micro Torque screwdriver seem to be better than the execution of the manufacturing of that tool. What this model has going for it is easy adjustments. You get a range of 3 to 15 inch-pounds, and it’s easy to move to the correct setting with the torque collar. You can also move in very small increments when using this model, and it guarantees accuracy to within plus or minus five percent.
However, this model costs more than the previous two. While it may be worth that extra cost to some people because of its good accuracy, it doesn’t come with any bits, so you’re getting more for less money with the other kits. This brand also has accuracy problems in related torque-based tools, so there are lingering concerns about this model’s accuracy. There are also quality control concerns with this model. While you could return a malfunctioning tool under warranty, that’s a pain that most people won’t want to deal with, and shouldn’t have to for the price. Overall, you’re paying a lot and getting a lot of uncertainty with this model, which makes for a bad overall deal.
If our reviews have already helped you find the model that’s right for you, we’re happy. If you’re still not sure which model is the one you need, don’t worry. This buyer’s guide is meant to walk you through the important features that can add or subtract value from your purchase. Reading through this guide will allow to shop for torque screwdrivers like a pro, even if you’ve never owned one of these great tools before. We’ve also included some advice on getting great value for your money, so if you’re looking to get a great deal on your next torque screwdriver, then you’ve come to the right place.
The torque range is the most important feature of a torque screwdriver, bar none. It’s very important because it determines the projects on which you can work, but also the effectiveness of its various measurements. Torque wrenches and screwdrivers are generally most accurate from 20 percent of their maximum range to 100 percent of their maximum range. That means that a torque screwdriver with a maximum torque of 10 inch-pounds would not be very accurate on measurements that were under two inch-pounds.
Likewise, exceeding the torque range specified on the tool can damage the internal parts, and lead to a completely broken tool. If you need a torque screwdriver for a specific task, it’s a good idea to research the task and determine what torque or torques will be required. Then find a torque screwdriver that has a range in which those torques comfortably fall.
Two torque screwdrivers could have the same range, but you may find that one or the other is more useful to you due to the increments by which you can change torque. For example, two torque screwdrivers may have a range of 10 to 50 inch-pounds. However, one can be adjusted in increments of five inch-pounds, while the other can be adjusted in increments of one-inch pounds.
If you need to consistently do a round number, like 35 inch-pounds of torque, then either could serve you well, but if you’re going to be doing odd amounts like 33 or 37 inch-pounds, then you’ll need to get the one that moves in smaller increments to get accurate measurements. Unfortunately, models with smaller increments tend to be more expensive, but the upside is that they also tend to be more accurate, and they tend to come with certifications attesting to that fact, as well.
If you’re getting tools to use at your workplace, then you may need to get certified torque screwdrivers. These models tend to be more expensive, but they come with certificates that attest that they’re accurate to within a certain percentage of the set measurement. These models can also be sent in for recalibration, so they can maintain very precise measurements for years.
You may think that this extra certification is overkill for your tool. However, it provides an extra layer of defense against a malfunctioning tool. It’s easier to send it back for a replacement or refund if there’s a certificate saying it should be fine, but it also means that you’re less likely to get a dud in the first place.
Sometimes that feature alone is worth the extra cost.
Which torque screwdriver is right for you?
Not all torque screwdrivers are made the same, which is a good thing since people’s needs vary. Some people try to get the best value for their money by focusing on the most or least expensive models. That’s a bad way to try and maximize your value. It’s sometimes more useful to set aside the price tags for a moment and make sure that you’re getting a tool you’ll like using.
If you figure out all the features your torque screwdriver will need to have to produce a great experience, and then you can make a list of all torque screwdrivers that meet those requirements. Then, you can choose the cheapest model off that list. Since it comes with the features you need, you’ll enjoy using it, and since you got those features at the lowest possible price, that tool provides the best value for your money.
The CDI 151SM Micro-Adjustable Torque Screwdriver is the best overall torque screwdriver due to its good accuracy, solid click, and 1/4-inch hex bit holder. The Capri Tools CP21075 is accurate across its entire range, includes a calibration certificate, and has one inch-pound increments, though bits getting stuck in it drops it to second place. The Wheeler 553556 is very accurate and comes with ten bits and a case and can be had for less than half of what you would have to pay to get the top two models on our list, making it the best overall torque screwdriver for the money. In fourth is the Neiko 10573B Torque Screwdriver Set which includes 20 bits and has a decent range but suffers from poor instructions and large steps. The Performance Tool M194 Adjustable Micro Torque screwdriver has easy adjustments and small increments, but its high price and accuracy and quality concerns mean that it can take no higher than the last place on our list.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you learn more about torque screwdrivers and have helped you find the model which is right for you.
Related buyer’s guides:
- Comparison of our Favorite Products
- The 5 Best Torque Screwdrivers – Reviews 2020:
- Buyer’s Guide